Ensuring that all clinician and healthcare professionals have an understanding of the basics of evidence based practice is important in order to critically appraise a research paper and evaluate it. There are a multitude of excellent resources and books available to help with this; however, there are not many medical apps designed with critical appraisal in mind. Critical APPraisal was developed by Afroze Khan and aims to fill the gap in the medical app field.

Critical APPraisal was at the center of controversy and brought before a medical tribunal. The accusations were of plagiarism although the regulatory panel rejected the charges based on the opinion of the doctors’ expert witness. The witness claimed  that the subject matter of critical appraisal was widely known and used in the medical profession and that differences between the book and the app were sufficient to acquit the app’s developers of the charge of plagiarism.

Critical APPraisal is designed for medical students and junior doctors to assess published research. It includes a guide to critical appraisal, an appraisal algorithm, a simple statistical calculator and a glossary.

The guide section is a long chunk of text with little formatting and a few tables. There is a table of contents available at the top of the text. The text itself doesn’t contain any hyperlinks, and the user continually has to jump up to the top of the text to access the contents.

Despite the formatting issues, the core content is actually quite useful. The content has been drawn from a wide number of sources (which are cited) and includes a detailed introduction to a wide range of statistical concepts and tools for critically appraising a research paper.

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The next most useful section is the glossary which contains a wide number of terms and gives a simple paragraph explanation of each term.

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The statistical calculator has three statistical tests which can be easily used to generate/quantify statistics given in a paper. There is a brief explanation of how to calculate each test, though, there is no information given in this section about how to interpret the results.

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The app also includes a decision support system to help evaluate a particular piece of research. The app asks a series of questions which the user can work through to ensure that they cover all aspects of critical appraisal. In practice, I found this a nice idea but difficult to use. However, it did prevent me from missing out on any particular areas of critical appraisal.

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The entire app is set out on a pale yellow background which can be quite difficult to read at times. The overall design is poor and not intuitive. The utility and accessibility of the app could be improved by the addition of a search function or hyperlinks which make navigating the considerable amount of content easier.

Price:

  • Free

 Likes

  • Large amount of content
  • Algorithm to help guide users through the appraisal process

Dislikes

  • General design and layout of the app is confusing and poor with a difficult user interface
  • No hyperlinks
  • No search function

Conclusion:

  • Critical APPraisal contains a wealth of information which many healthcare professionals will find it useful to have on their mobile device.
  • However, users may be hampered by a poor design and limited functionality meaning that much of this content is challenging to access.

 iTunes Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 4.5/5

  1. User Interface: 2/5
  2. Multimedia usage: 2/5
  3. Price: 5/5
  4. Real world applicability: 4/5

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.